There wasn’t much to like about MSU’s performance. Punter Baker Swedenburg was kept busy and averaged 46 yards on five punts. Also, senior receiver Arceto Clark had five catches – tying a career high – for 64 yards.
Where to start? Well, State gave up 693 yards, the most it’s allowed in 17 years, and gained only 310. MSU couldn’t do a thing with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who accounted for 440 yards.
The Aggies converted a lot of third downs, scoring touchdowns on a pair of third-and-longs in the early going. Stops there could have made a huge difference.
Offensively, MSU found ways to stop itself, and the offensive line struggled with the Aggies’ athletic front seven.
Keys to victory Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday’s GameDay section:
1. Block Moore: Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore caused a false start and got a sack on MSU’s first possession. He didn’t get another sack, but Moore and his friends applied plenty of pressure to MSU quarterback Tyler Russell, who was 19 of 30 with an interception.
On a key fourth-and-3 from Texas A&M’s 11-yard line in the second quarter, Russell was pressured and didn’t have time to find a receiver. His pass sailed out of the back of the end zone.
2. Get back to running: The Bulldogs had some early success with tailback LaDarius Perkins, who rushed for 32 yards in the first quarter. But the early deficit forced MSU to pass a lot more than it wanted to, and Perkins never became a factor, carrying the ball 13 times for 42 yards.
As a team, MSU gained 98 yards on the ground.
3. Contain Johnny Football: MSU failed miserably on this count. Manziel rushed for 129 yards, gashing the Bulldogs on designed runs and turning busted plays into huge ones. He scored on a 37-yard touchdown dash for a 21-0 A&M lead.
He also completed 30 of 36 passes for 311 yards, and 10 different players caught passes.
MSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC) has now lost two in a row, and it gets no easier this weekend with a trip to LSU. The Bulldogs are in danger of being a team in a slide.